“Constructing & Performing the ‘Fat Bitch:’ Irreverence as Queer Cultural Production” with Virgie Tovar

“Constructing & Performing the ‘Fat Bitch:’ Irreverence as Queer Cultural Production” with Virgie Tovar

6:15-7:30pm Tuesday, April 22nd

Odegaard 220

Join the Q Center in bringing Virgie Tovar to UW to talk about constructing and performing the “fat bitch” from a fat, feminist, queer, woman of color perspective.

About Virgie: Virgie Tovar is the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, 2012). She is one of the nation’s leading lecturers and activists in the area of fat discrimination. She holds an MA in Sexuality Studies with a concentration on the intersections of size, race and gender. She has been featured by Al Jazeera, NPR, Huffington Post, Bust Magazine, and the San Francisco
Chronicle.

Find her online at www.virgietovar.com.


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Kissing Complications

I’ve always considered myself asexual and I’ve never kissed someone but I thought that I would want to! Today a guy that I enjoy spending time went to kiss me (as was appropriate I believe for the time in our relationship) and I didn’t want to do it. I have no experience so I don’t know if it’s normal to not want to be physically involved at all at the beginning of a relationship and if that comes or if I might just not like him / like kissing people at all. I’m so confused.

Write the word “normal” on a sheet of paper, crumple it up, and toss it in the trash. Or something else decidedly dramatic. Don’t judge yourself based on the norms of others, create your own norms. Maybe not liking kissing is a norm for you! That’s really not unheard of! Assuming you want to pursue a relationship with him (but seriously, don’t beat yourself up over it if you don’t), this is going to be a conversation that you need to have with him. Establishing boundaries is hard but it’s really important in building something that’s healthy and supportive and just generally not awful. Is kissing something that you actively don’t want to do? Or are you apathetic to kissing? Does it gross you out? Could you care less? Do you like one way of kissing more than others? I’m going to use myself as an example, only because I think you’ll benefit from it a bit. I don’t always like kissing. As of recently, I really don’t. I’ve only been in one relationship where I actively wanted to kiss/ be kissed/ etc, and in that relationship that made me feel really, really good. Outside of that one case, though, I don’t mind kissing. Nothing about it makes me uncomfortable or unhappy, so I’m almost always game to kiss a partner of mine if I know it’s something that would make them happy. And I like making my partners happy! I feel good knowing that there’s something I can do that will make them feel good, even if it’s something that I could care less about on a personal level.

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It’s not for everyone, seriously.

That’s me, though! You need to assess your own feelings, your own needs, as well as his feelings and his needs in order to sort out a situation that makes you both pretty happy. Put yourself first, but in healthy relationships you absolutely need to think about how your partner’s needs interact with your own. I’m almost positive I’ve linked to this video before, but I really like it and I think it’s something that should be applied to relationships in general, not just sexual ones. There are an infinite number of ways to be intimate with someone. Those ways can be physical, emotional, whatever. But your comfort is more important than trying to force intimacy when you’re not feelin’ it. If you like this guy and want to work out some ways for you all to become romantically (?) closer, that’s an ongoing discussion worth having. Don’t let the question of your comfort leave the table, establish with him what to do if you begin to feel uncomfortable, figure out what makes you feel safe, etc. All of my past partners asked me before they kissed me for the first time, and then proceeded to check in on me throughout the remainder of our relationships. It’s something I will never, ever take for granted and it helped me feel safe and happy in those relationships. Create a tone for that kind of communication. If you do some soul searching and come to the understanding that what you want and what he wants out of this relationship just doesn’t line up, don’t force it. Process and then compromise, or don’t, or whatever, but communication is vital and you could get something really nice for the both of you out of it.

Now that that’s out of the way, there actually is a word within the asexual community for people who find their desires and likes changing after having established an emotional connection. On the romance side of it, people who experience romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection use the term demi-romantic. There’s a parallel in the term demi-sexual, which boils down to people who experience sexual attraction after having established a [romantic] emotional connection. It’s a thing, so don’t stress out. Asexuality is as much of an umbrella term as sexuality is. Your individual experience is your individual experience, and that’s what you want to focus on. I hope you come out of this feeling a little more settled and a lot less like you need to figure out whether you’re “normal” or not. Just focus now on working out what it means for the two of you.

Good luck!

Oly


Treat yourself

Exploring Queerness

Over the past 4 years I have been struggling with coming to terms with my sexuality. It was always clear to me that I was straight until high school when I started to develop feelings that I wasn’t comfortable with. Now that I have thought about it a lot even after trying to suppress it I’m still not sure and I’m afraid of potentially being bisexual or pansexual just because I don’t know if i’ll ever be sure of it. It feels pretty set in stone that I am not straight but I have no idea what I am or what it means. I fear that if I tell others and later find out its not who I am they will think it was just for attention or I just “couldn’t choose a side”. I need any and all advice you can give me please.

Well, the long and short of it is that sexuality is really a fluid thing, which I don’t really think is what you want to hear. But it’s something that changes as you do, as apparent in your own experience. It’s something that can expand and contract, linked to how your own understanding of gender/sexuality grows, linked to the experiences you encounter with different people in sexual contexts. Words can help give you a ballpark idea, a schema that you can touch base with, but no word will ever really be a 100% match to who you are – you’re a complex person! I think that can be as scary as it is freeing, knowing that you are similar to some but still your own person. That you can affiliate with some words while still being an entity that exists independently of that.

Your concern for others judging you is, unfortunately, really valid. People are historically really horrible at affirming anything that isn’t monosexual (which is preference for one gender regardless of your own identity). There’s not a lot of support outside of the community, and even within the queer community conversation is lacking and flawed. But that’s not your fault, it’s theirs! And it’s the fault of the history that went into recognizing non-heterosexual identities. It’s a fault of homophobia, a fault of a cultural obsession with binaries, etc. I want you to know that you can change your mind RE: how you identify, and that doesn’t invalidate your past decisions and feelings. If my opinion of a movie can change drastically over the course of a year, my relationship with my own sexuality and gender definitely can; an intrinsic part of who I am and how I interact with the world is decidedly more nuanced than even the most complex of films. I really encourage you to focus more on what feels right in the moment, and I hope that the people in your life can support you through that. Try to find strength in the fact that you’re being true to yourself in the present tense! That’s really important in being your own advocate. It might change, it might not. But I definitely think it would be better to explore that part of yourself and see what you need right now than to pretend it doesn’t exist for fear of it not panning out. You’ll definitely learn something knew about yourself, regardless of the verdict, and it’ll be massively rewarding in the long run.

Treat yourself

Treat yourself and your various identities. I have no regrets using this picture with such a serious conversation. I love treat yourself and I love self care. Give yourself a break! You sincerely deserve it.

Some words you might find something in (and readers, feel free to help me augment this because I only know so much):

bisexuality: my understanding of the word is based on their community’s definition, which is “same and other genders.” It has been explained to me that gender plays a big role in this identity. There’s a fluidity, but attraction is very much woven through one’s own understanding of gender, and there are preferences therein.
pansexuality: my understanding of the word is that gender doesn’t play a huge part in attraction. To say gender is an afterthought isn’t correct, but it’s definitely not at the forefront of the mental process. Pansexuality is more “I like this person, they happen to be this gender” that “This person is this gender and I like them,” if that makes sense.
queer: instead of giving my understanding, I’m going to quote Brandon Wint, who is a Canadian based write and poet: “Not queer like gay. Queer like, escaping definition. Queer like some sort of fluidity and limitlessness at once. Queer like a freedom too strange to be conquered. Queer like the fearlessness to imagine what love can look like… and pursue it.” Queer isn’t necessarily as accessible as the two other words (bisexuality is, I feel comfortable saying, the most known word outside of queer circles), and I would say it’s more a lifestyle and politic than an identity, but I personally feel a lot of comfort in the word because it doesn’t ask me for permanence in the way I choose to think of myself. Queer knows that sexuality is fluid, and gives me room to find out what that means for me.

People discrediting your identity and experience can’t stop it from being your identity and experience. So, let it be yours. Find what’s right in the moment and allow yourself room to change and grow. Try not to restrict yourself to something if it’s gonna make you feel like shit. I really hope something in here helps. Good luck good luck good luck!

Oly


A GSA Coup d’État

The GSA at my school is really terrible, and they rarely have meetings and the activities they do plan are often pretty [lackluster] and straight-people focused. I really want to join and see if I can bring any change to it, but I’m halfway through my junior year and I feel like it’s too late to do anything. Is it even worth it?

Hell yeah it’s worth it! What I would really recommend is getting in touch with the people who lead the group and talk to them about your interest alongside your reservations. It is decidedly possible that the people running it are straight and misguided, which I can’t really fault them for when y’all are in high school. Let them know that you want to help them be more productive, more supportive. Pitch it as a way for them to be better allies, a way to capitalize on good intentions and actually have some really cool results. Also I’m assuming that like my high school’s GSA, there will be a teacher who stamps their name on the group or sits in on meetings or whatever. Get them involved in the conversation! I responded to a question a while back about possible discussion topics for a GSA, which you can find here. If you come into the conversation with some solid ideas and a defined direction of where you want to take it, you’re going to get a loooot more support.

Something else you might find useful to share is actually from a local Seattle organization but is definitely accessible in other areas. Put This On The {Map} is a documentary made by a group in the area that went on to do work with a focus on Reteaching Gender & Sexuality and to an extent, allyship. The website for the film is here and if you poke through they have a really interesting discussion guide that’s up for grabs, and a lot of the questions listed are absolutely solid without the film as a background. They also have a great short video about what they want to accomplish here.

Time is, I think, a non-issue here. I really think you could help the GSA become something better, even if it only becomes better next year. But be active in it! Because it’s really worth it! You could actually be the reason why people are having better discussions, and that’s a really satisfying and rewarding feeling. Challenge them to do better and be a part of them actually evolving as a group that I’m sure was started for all the right reasons.

Go for it. And good luck!

Oly


Leap-Frogging Into Gender Non-Conformity

Dear Dear Queer, do you have any advice on getting up the confidence to do gender non-conforming things, like not shaving your legs and armpits when you’re afab or painting your nails and wearing make up when you’re amab?

Well from personal experience, I kind of started small and built up! For me it was nice because it was somewhat subtle and it allowed me a lot of room to figure out what felt right to me. I know a lot of cis girls who laugh about not shaving their legs in winter, but when winter ended and shorts became a viable option again, I just abandoned my razor. A huge key – and I’ll keep saying it over and over again because it is at the forefront of self care – is checking in with yourself to see what you like, what you want to change, etc. Like, I typically shave my armpits just because I don’t like the way it feels, and I keep my nails aggressively well manicured, but I would definitely still say that I’m a pretty gender defiant person. Wear and do what makes you feel happy and healthy and affirmed, and find confidence in the fact that you’re reaching a place where you can find out what you like, not what other people want you to like. Even within gender binaries, nobody does gender the same. We are not Stepford wives.

For AFAB people who feel obligated or pressured to shave their legs, I just have to say you’ll honestly be very surprised with how little people care. From my own experience, I’ve never even gotten a weird look and I tend to show off my legs. The only comments I’ve ever gotten have been positive so I would try not to get too wound up about it. This might be a product of me living in the Pacific Northwest, but I’ve been to Texas, Southern California, and all over the midwest and northeast and have yet to experience a negative reaction. So that’s nice! Let your hair grow out and take time at home or wherever to sit down and feel the hair on your legs and love the way it looks, or at least the statement it makes, if that’s what you’re going for. Confidence is a huge key, and affirmation from outside sources won’t matter a ton if you don’t have an inner foundation. The more concerned with whatever gender-defying action you’re taking you are, the more people are going to be drawn to it as something out of the ordinary. Drawing the spotlight to whatever you’re doing isn’t going to help you feel comfortable in doing it. If I wore shorts and kept darting my eyes to my legs or kept trying to hide them, that would bring in a lot of unwanted attention when in reality it’s pretty likely to slip under the radar.

AMAB people are not as lucky, and I won’t pretend that they are! Regardless of assigned or perceived gender, presenting as more masculine will always be more acceptable than presenting as feminine for as long as we live in a male-biased society. If you’re AMAB and want to start playing around with feminine forms of expression, there are a ton of ways to very subtly weave perceived aesthetic femininity into your look (polish on your toes, nude makeup, incorporating less “masculine” colors into your palette, etc). That said, and this is where all of my friends who keep up with this laugh out loud, have you seen Harry Styles lately? My dude is currently pullin’ off and has been seen with nail polish and earrings and sparkly boots (they were so pretty!!) and rings and necklaces and wedge heels and these gorgeous scarves around his head and nobody is blinking an eye. This goes for AFAB people too but knowing there are successful gender-defiant people out there doin’ it both casually and loudly is a huge comfort and reassurance and I think it makes it less scary.

I hope this helps in any small way, and goooooood luck!

Oly


Internship position: Rainbow Health Fair Coordinator

The Rainbow Health Fair offers traditional and holistic health services and education from culturally competent providers to lesbian, bisexual, and queer women and genderqueer and transgender people, especially those with limited access to care.  The Rainbow Health Fair Coordinator will support all pieces of preparation and implementation for the YWCA’s annual Rainbow Health Fair, which has been serving the LBTQ community since 1995.  The fair will take place on Saturday, June 28th, 2014, and the planning process, spearheaded by the Rainbow Health Fair Committee, begins in January.

At the YWCA of Seattle-King-Snohomish, our mission is to empower women, eliminate racism, and advance the quality of life for all women and their families. Within this broader framework, our Women’s Health Outreach (WHO) program provides peer outreach, education, and health services to a diverse community of women with limited incomes, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. By helping to plan and execute an accessible, effective Rainbow Health Fair, the Coordinator will support the Women’s Health Outreach Program in fulfilling its goal to bring health care resources to these underserved communities.

Once a month, and more frequently towards the Health Fair date, 1.5 to 2 hour planning meetings are held Tuesdays between 6.30 and 8.00pm. The Planning Committee consists of a group of enthusiastic volunteers and the Program Manager of the Women’s Health Outreach (WHO).

Overarching Rainbow Health Fair Coordinator responsibilities will include:

  • · Promote the fair in the Seattle LBTQ community through outreach and marketing
  • · Maintain and update the Rainbow Health Fair blog to create buzz and educate attendees
  • · Assist in coordinating meetings for the Rainbow Health Fair Committee, which consists of YWCA staff, volunteers, and community leaders
  • · Take notes and offer logistical support at committee meetings
  • · Recruit volunteers for the day of the fair
  • · Support event implementation on the day of the fair, and celebrate with the YWCA team!

 

The Coordinator will have the opportunity to collaborate with the YWCA’s Women’s Health Outreach staff, a diverse group of dedicated women who bring years of experience in community health and social work to the table. The WHO office environment is extremely warm and welcoming, and the Coordinator will benefit from the support, wisdom, and humor of our staff. Much of the planning and preparation for the Rainbow Health Fair will be done on-site at the YWCA, and there will be an area set aside for the Coordinator and equipped with the necessary resources. A few pieces of the project can also be completed remotely, which will offer the Coordinator some flexibility.

This position offers many professional and personal growth opportunities, including chances to learn the inner workings of a large social service organization, receive mentoring from seasoned health and social work professionals, and develop community organizing and project management skills. The Coordinator will also be able to enhance their understanding of the barriers our YWCA clients face, and carry this with them into their social work careers.  The ideal student is well-organized, enjoys engaging with community members, writes and communicates well, and is able to work independently. The Coordinator must possess a passion for health care access and/or health education and an understanding of social justice issues and barriers to health care, preferably with a lens specific to the LBTQ community.

If you are interested, please contact Ingrid Berkhout at iberkhout@ywcaworks.org or 206-461-4493.


"This is a—this is maybe stupid," said Oliver, "but, like, when I talk about you, should I say 'he' or 'her' or . . . ?" Quattlebaum grinned.

What the H*ck is Gender?

Hi Oly! I’ve been thinking about gender and identity a lot recently and I’m just really confused about my own. Like, I get that there are trans people who got sex dysphoria and that doesn’t apply to me but I also read stuff about dysphoria not being the only thing to define gender. But what is it then? Because I don’t think it’s gender roles, right? What IS gender? How do you know whether you feel female / male / something else?

Wow, ok. Big question. Well first and foremost we need to agree that gender is a culture bound concept. American culture operates with two pretty rigid genders (masculinity being more rigid, I would say… there’s always more wiggle room outside of the role that receives privilege). Other cultures use a binary system, but a lot don’t. Even those that use a binary system don’t necessarily have the same categorization that we do, nor the same strictness about people adhering to the gender they are assigned. Gender is… there’s only so many times you can say “gender is a social construct” before it sounds like nails on a chalkboard but that’s what it is. Your understandings of “male” and “female” are dependent on the fact that you grew up in this culture that have these structures for gender. It’s reinforced ad nauseum by tropes in media and weird pointless dichotomies. It is sold to us in a really simple, easily consumable but heavily flawed and skewed way that erases a lot of people and doesn’t encourage personal growth. So.

"This is a—this is maybe stupid," said Oliver, "but, like, when I talk about you, should I say 'he' or 'her' or . . . ?" Quattlebaum grinned.

“This is a—this is maybe stupid,” said Oliver, “but, like, when I talk about you, should I say ‘he’ or ‘her’ or . . . ?” Quattlebaum grinned. (really great article here)

 

So, how do you know what you feel like. That’s really complicated! I mean, I don’t think it’s too oversimplifying for me to say that generally, trans people discover their identification as trans because something feels wrong about the way they are being gendered. And that can include physical issues, but it doesn’t have to. Bodies are incredibly gendered, but so are actions, affects, aesthetics, etc. Maybe you are assigned female but something in your core screams male. Maybe you were assigned male but you feel out of place in the gender category you’ve been dumped in, and the “other side” doesn’t look too hot either. It’s a feeling of discomfort that permeates your experience as a person in a gendered society. I think something that’s also happening more with the increased visibility of trans narratives is cis people who are relatively apathetic about their identification taking a step back and thinking, “Do I actually identify this way? Why do I identify this way? What informed this? Would I be more comfortable being seen as something else?” It’s something that absolutely deserves experimentation, and if you’re feeling so… vague about it, I 100% encourage you to explore that. I hope it’s something that you play around with and find something productive in! Gender is weird and a pretty paper-thin structure that I am all for poking holes in.

Good luck!!


Femininity and Genderqueerness

Hi there! I was a born female who now identifies as genderqueer, and I dress very feminine. However, when I tell people I’m genderqueer, they tell me I’m just using the title to “fit in” and that I’m “just a chick”. I do feel 100% genderqueer, and completely identify myself as so, but I feel this pressure that I must look 100% androgynous in order to fit my gender role, and that if I don’t, people will continuously misgender me and I’ll never be “accepted” as genderqueer. I really don’t know what to do? I don’t want to conform to other people’s standards of what my gender should look like, but I feel as if I never will be completely genderqueer if I don’t. I was thinking of taking testosterone to feel more at ease in physical terms of being genderqueer, but I’m not entirely sure. What should I do?

Anyone who tells you that is seriously such an asshole. I tried to think of a better way to say this but nah, nothing works as well as asshole. First and foremost, nobody IDs as trans to “fit in”. That is an incredibly ridiculous, harmful claim and the people who hide behind that logic in order to invalidate the way people identify and express themselves are just being obstinate. To ID as trans to “fit in” would imply that being trans is in any way a norm, that it is in any way accepted, that it is in any way a cultural standard. It’s not. You know it’s not, I know it’s not, and no matter how much visibility trans people get in certain circles, that does not change on any larger scale. A friend of mine said this like three years ago and I’ll never forget it: “Pretending you’re a gender you’re not isn’t fun. That’s why people come out as trans in the first place.” So just. The people who tell you otherwise are wrong. And assholes.

This relates back to my last response in a really big way. You are completely genderqueer by the merit of you identifying yourself as such. I’m gonna go ahead and assume that you put some thought into using that word. You know it feels right, you know it is right. You are genderqueer. Nothing can change that except you and how you move forward, and that’s not to say it will change. “Presenting” as androgyny is complicated and fallible and has very privileged roots. Androgyny as we conceive it as a society is incredibly male-biased. Embrace a feminine aesthetic, force people to stop identifying masculinity as the default, because honestly that’s a bit tired, yeah?

Do you want to take testosterone for yourself? Not for others, for you? Do you think that the results of testosterone would satisfy you on your own terms? Because that’s An Ordeal. Not permanent, but expensive and stressful, and if you’re doing it for anyone besides yourself, I don’t think it will make you feel any better. You shouldn’t need to conform to a gender binary in order to exist outside of it, that… doesn’t make sense. You need to use what you’re presented with to your advantage, and if you like dressing feminine I would say you’ve found it. Assholes, seriously. Don’t listen to them. I know that’s easier said than done, and misgendering isn’t a thing that’s going to stop happening for as long as we live in a transphobic, cissexist culture, but you do you. You’re so much stronger than they want you to be.

Good luck to everything! I’m here if you need me.


Doing Gender Neutrality Right

hi! i’m dfab & agender. in the process of becoming aware of and exploring my gender identity over the past two years, i tried to express myself in more masculine ways to achieve what i believed was androgyny — the most visible one was having most of my hair cut off about a year ago. now i’m trying to grow it back out, because in the year since, i’ve realized that masculine “androgyny” doesn’t appeal to me. even so, up until then it seemed like the only Real Way to do gender neutrality, and because of this feminine parts of my gender expression (nail painting, wearing my hair long, wearing dresses) always feel like they are in conflict with the masculine ones (don’t usually wear makeup, don’t shave my legs, masculine body build). i don’t know if there is a right or wrong way to go about being agender and i’m pretty lost as to where to go at this point!

Isn’t it just completely not fair how the gender binary completely permeates our understanding of neutrality EVEN WITHIN the queer community? You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re agender, yeah? This culture didn’t grow up with queer people mind. There’s not a section in a clothing store for nonbinary people. You have to take what you have it make it yours. Our concepts of androgyny are unsettlingly male-influenced, and I’m glad you made a note that it didn’t work out for you. I’m glad that you are in a place where you can reject the standard of androgyny because you know it isn’t right for you. I think a lot of people – by no fault of their own! – force themselves into ideas of popular (masculinized) androgyny because that’s… the only other option given. But two options expanded to a heavily gendered third isn’t a satisfying compromise! There’s only so much you can do to avoid being gendered in a gendered culture. The “feminine” and “masculine” parts of your gender expression aren’t in opposition to each other, they’re in harmony with each other. Know that they’re yours, that you’re cheating the system that wasn’t made to consider people like us part of the picture. There’s not a right way or a wrong way, just your way. I think you’ve found it, now you just need a bit of confidence in it.

Good luck!


If you can pull off a not awkward fistbump, that would be ideal.

Showing Support & Coming Out

What is the best way to show support for a friend or family member that comes out with their sexuality or gender identity? For example, I don’t want to be overwhelming in showering them with love or blowing my reaction out of proportion (ex. “OH MY GOD I KNEW IT AND I’M SO PROUD OF YOU), but I also do not want to sweep it under the rug as a no big deal because I do understand it is a huge step in their life.

I think that generally, the best way to respond to someone coming out is to say, very earnestly, “thank you for sharing this with me, it means a lot and I’m here for you.” Because that’s 1) what they’re doing, 2) a recognition that this is significant, and 3) an expression of the solidarity you’re wanting to convey! They’re sharing something with you that is potentially and big deal, and that they would feel comfortable telling you without, I assume, feeling pressured to for any secondary reason besides wanting you to know, is a huge testament to how much you matter to them. So respect that, don’t make it a spectacle, don’t respond with nothing more than “okay cool”, just share a nice, small moment with them and then be there for them as they need you to be. I definitely think that’d be a best case scenario. If you and whoever is coming out are physically comfortable with each other, minor physical contact is immensely comforting.

If you can pull off a not awkward fistbump, that would be ideal.

If you can pull off a not awkward fistbump, that would be ideal.

Not everyone needs the same things, obviously. Some people are going to want more support in the moment, some people are going to want to move on pretty quickly. I can’t give you one definitive answer because there isn’t one. Read them, provide them a confidence boost if they need it, let them elaborate if they want to. Keep it about them and their needs and just make sure they know you’re there for them in whatever capacity that might be! Good luck to both you and the potentially queer people in your life.

 

Hey there! I’m a bisexual/biromantic girl, and I’m “out” to my friends but not to my family. I know my family will be supportive, but it’s just so weird thinking about Coming Out to them. I just hate that it has to be such a big deal. I came out to my friends by casually talking about girls I had crushes on, so it was never an event or anything. The problem is, I don’t talk to my family about crushes. I don’t even like expressing interest in cute actors around my family. I was thinking about coming out to my (older) sister, then my parents, but I don’t know how to do it without them making it a big deal. I want it to be as low-key as possible. Any advice?

So there’s a huge possibility that I just have horrific luck, but coming out to family is historically awkward, regardless of how supportive you know they’ll be. I do think that using your sister as a stepping stone would be super conducive to what you’re tryin’ to go for here, because she’s not going to treat it… like a parent would, for lack of a better comparison. Honestly, just from my own experiences, your parents might want to Talk About It. A whole hand-on-your-knee, soulful eyes ordeal. Which is kind of painful. You might need to indulge it a little bit for the sake of your parents feeling like they’re being good parents, I really can’t guarantee you anything in that respect. Even with super supportive parents, it’s a shift! And they’re going to respond to it. And that response might be a weepy “I’m so proud of you!” that you’ll cringe at for want of causality and it might be a grunt and a fistbump, I don’t know! If your relationship with your older sister is anything like my relationship with my younger sister, just telling her “Hey, I’m not straight” apropos of nothing with result in a nod of understanding and solidarity and then a different topic will come up. I don’t know the relationship you have with your family, but if you know they’ll be supportive that’s half the battle right there! Having your sister in the know will be helpful, and I know a lot of other queer people who came out to their siblings before they came out to their parents. Utilize your sister in trying to find a good time to come out to your parents. Let her know that you need it to be as calm as possible. She can help facilitate that.

This is going to sound like a really dramatic option, so I apologize, but I also think it will help you to minimize the intensity of the reaction you’ll get: write them a letter. Something short and sweet that you can leave them that just says something like “Howdy, I’m queer and I don’t want it to be an ordeal, it’s not something I want to dominate the conversations you have with me, I just wanted you to know for the sake of you knowing.” Obviously I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so that is 100% just an example. Also my coworkers laughed at me for suggesting this, so maybe not. I’m suggesting it because it’ll give your parents to process it away from you so that you can come back and handle it with them the way you need to. But regardless of how you start, I think that stressing your needs from the get-go is important. Again, I’m not going to lie, your parents are probably going to talk to you about it! But make sure it’s on your terms. Tell them when you’d  be okay with talking about it, figure out what you want to talk to them about and what you don’t necessarily want on the table. I don’t know how your parents will react, so I want you to have options and be ready to control the conversation if it becomes more than what you want.

Make your needs clear, and ask your sister to run defense. I wish I could guarantee you a casual experience, but I can’t! I can only try to help you minimize it. Good luck, I hope things go well!